By Joe Dandron
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — No. 8 Penn State and Michigan State matched up at Beaver Stadium Saturday evening. With both teams coming off a loss, both teams were hungry and it showed in a back-and-forth football game that ended with a 21-17 Michigan State victory.
With 19 seconds to go, quarterback Brian Lewerke made the most important throw of the season for MSU. His 25-yard pass to Felton Davis III gave the Spartans the lead for good and completed the upset on the road.
“Big win for our program. Program win,” MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said. “You come up here and you’re banged up a little bit. Some guys that usually play are out. We talked a little bit about overcoming adversity as we came up here. It was gonna be a great environment to play in and what a great environment.”
Penn State was on the board first, as running back Miles Sanders rattled off a 78-yard run to set up a 5-yard touchdown pass from McSorley to receiver K.J. Hamler 10 minutes into the game.
After the early deficit, the Spartans took a chance on a big fourth-and-long, running Connor Heyward up the sideline on a fake punt for 26 yards into Penn State territory. The trickery continued two plays later as Heyward threw a gorgeous deep ball to receiver Cam Chambers. With the quarter coming to an end, the offense was set up on the 1-yard line of Penn State.
Penn State answered soon after as Miles Sanders scored a 48-yard touchdown, making multiple Spartans miss tackles and handing PSU a 14-7 lead at halftime.
Sanders ran for a total of 162 yards but ran for just 19 yards after halftime.
The game was far from over even after Lewerke tossed his seventh interception of the year early in the third quarter, as once again the defense stepped up. A big sack on fourth down from defensive end Kenny Willekes set up the game-tying touchdown as Lewerke completed to huge passes to receivers Matt Sokol and Davis on the following drive. Lewerke found Davis for a 20-yard toe-tap touchdown reception with 6:10 left in the third quarter to tie the game at 14.
Davis finished the day with eight receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
Both teams were unable to convert in what quickly turned into a fist-fight of a ball game. Penn State knocked in a 20-yard field goal with 9:21 to play, giving the Nittany Lions a 17-14 lead.
The offense turned it over on downs on a fake field-goal attempt and with 5:19 to go Penn State took over looking to put away MSU. After one first down, PSU was again forced to turn the ball back to MSU.
With 1:46 to go, Dantonio put his faith in his defense, punting away the ball from MSU’s 35 following a sack. After three runs from Penn State, the Spartans forced a quick three-and-out, giving Lewerke enough time to march down the field.
MSU moves to 4-2 on the year and could find themselves back in the AP Poll on Sunday afternoon ahead of a big-time showdown with Michigan next Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for noon, and WDBM Sports will have live coverage on 88.9 FM in the Lansing area.